Forbes CIOs Are Increasingly Being Plucked From Other Functions

May 19, 2014
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CIOs Are Increasingly Being Plucked From Other Functions

by Peter High, published on


Information Technology is becoming much more of the business by the business and for the business than ever before. This is true because almost all business trends have deep technology components to them.  Not only every industry, but practically every function within every company needs IT to run its most strategic processes and platforms.  Lastly, customers are becoming ever more technology savvy.  As a result, companies are demanding that IT leadership reflect this business-centricity.

It used to be commonplace that the chief information officer would grow up in the IT department, often from the level of programmer, working his or her way up the hierarchy until reaching the highest point.  It also used to be that this was the end of the journey, by and large.  This level of grassroots knowledge of IT was all the more important in an era where IT’s infrastructure was all on premises, and largely homegrown.

Now that substantial swathes of IT are managed in the cloud, and as more systems are leveraged in their “vanilla” state off-the-shelf, and as more of the actual IT work is done by vendors, a growing number of CIOs are taking on this role after having spent most of their careers in other functions.

The advantages of doing so can be tremendous. As IT becomes the business (rather than something separate from it or a support function to it), it is essential that IT leaders have greater business and financial acumen. This can come from an IT executive who has an MBA, or from a CIO who had a stint in a function other than IT while spending most of his or her career in IT.  More companies are finding that it makes sense to have IT leaders who have walked a mile in the shoes of other functions.

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